Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Coming to London

I was born a twin in New Zealand on the 23 November and raised in a small town called Rotorua. Ten years later my twin and I immigrated to London. After many years of different jobs and lots of travelling I started working for Network Rail. There was a fellow New Zealander already there and we were sat next to each other. After becoming close friends we discovered we both shared the same birthday (probably not so amazing but still tickled us). About a year later a colleague recruited a girl to work in our team. She too, was a New Zealander. After getting to know her (and becoming firm friends) we discovered she also was born on the 23 November, but for me more coincidental was that she too was a twin and had been brought up in Rotorua. To this day the 3 of us are laughing at what had happened 9 months earlier (not the event!) that finally lead to us all meeting up half way around the world to become friends. (Unfortunately we weren't born the same year, but I didn't think that mattered).

One gender, one birthday, simple...

My ex-wife has two sisters; they're twins, and their birthday is 9 April. I have one sister, whose birthday is also 9 April. I have three daughters, who have an easy task remembering family birthdays: one date, one gender. Apart from me (the father in the story), there has been a continuous trail of eight daughters, with no sons on either side of the family... I've long said that women are the future....

Prayer answered or Coincidence ?

During the 1990s my late father needed an operation and as I had recently converted to catholicism I decided, without telling my parents, to have a mass said for him. His operation was due to take place in February of that year so I made the request to the church in early February, rather hoping that his mass would take place in the same month as the operation. The date allocated was in fact 26th March. My father was not a religious man and the thought of a mass being dedicated to him would have been distressing but I said in prayer - " I know my dad does not believe but please let me know that You are with him" The operation did not take place in February - it was rescheduled for - 26th March at 6p.m, - the very time he was having the operation! What seemed odd to me at the time was that far from declaring it a miracle, many devout Catholic friends said - What a coincidence!

A day in court

In 1971 as a teenager, I fell in love and ran away with a man I had met at work in Birmingham -my but not his, hometown. We shacked up together in a miserable room in Bedford. It wasnt working out, and after a few months I went back home, understanding that M was also moving on - he was something of a hippy drifter. It became clear after a while that i was pregnant. My son was born in December 1971 and having no support I claimed state benefits. I was told in order to do this I had to co-operate in identifying the baby's father. At that time a voluntary organisation worked with single mothers in doing this. They had no luck in finding M, but we had to take forward a case for maintenance in the courts in his absence. On the due day, i turned up at Birmingham Crown Court to meet the ladies from this organisation. I was shocked and distressed to suddenly see M striding across the foyer of the court building. When he had passed, I saw the ladies and asked where they had found him and why they hadnt warned me.

Ed Miliband

As a prelude to this story, you should know that I am neither a member of the Labour Party, nor have taken no previous interest whatsoever in Ed Miliband! A year ago, I dreamt one night that Ed Miliband was my new partner and I was accompanying him on the campaign trail. I awoke and was very struck about how vivid the dream had been. Later that same morning the post arrived. I opened a letter addressed to me, and was shocked on pulling the letter from the envelope to see it headed `Ed Miliband'. I was being invited by him to attend the first of his roadshows, a forum on how the Labour could improve life for families, in early February. Struck, and not a little spooked, by this coincidence, I accepted the invitation to attend, largely to find how I had been selected. I was told that 300 people had been selected randomly from the electoral register. Why did I dream about him the night before receiving the letter?

Egypt /Clocks

Coincidence 1 I was born in Egypt. I heard Julian Fellows on Dessert Island Discs - He was born in Egypt. I had a DVD of an episode of Downton Abbey I had been unable to watch when broadcast. I had moved equipment into our large old country kitchen to be 'green' by cutting the house heating and relying on the AGA. I was disappointed to find the TV seemed to give the Downton cast jaundice, as everything looked rather yellow. I checked the Sony website for a phone number for technical advice - was it worth having the TV fixed or should I get another set? I phoned the help line. Was told that the problem was likely to be the Scart plug. (I remembered the cats had been having fun the day before at the back of the TV - The technician was right). Before ending the conversation I asked the technician where he was from. "Why?" I replied, because I thought he had a familiar sounding accent. "Oh no. I am from Egypt." I told him that I had been correct, and that I had been born and lived in Egypt. He was amazed.

Jo Mango and Ludwig

Cycling holiday with my son from Barra in the South to Stornoway in the North of the Outer Hebrides. On the third evening in a bar in Leverburgh, South Harris, I told him about a song entitled "Ludwig" by Jo Mango. At her concert in Edinburgh she had said "this isn't about Beethoven, he gets enough praise. It's about my favourite philosopher, Wittgenstein". I thought this was quirky and funny - and the music was haunting. The next day cycling along the dramatic, sparsely populated coastal road on the East of Harris we saw a sign to the Skoon Art Cafe. There were few opportunities to have a break with some cake and we took the side road to the cafe which was delightful. We ordered and were chatting when I realised that at the next table with friends or family was Jo Mango - someone I had never heard of before the concert two weeks previously. My son had to restrain me from interrupting her holiday.


As young person I liked to visit my cousin Alan. When I turned up he wasn't often there. My Auntie would say "He's gone to see his friend Peter." How I hated this Peter who, even after Alan had arranged to be there when I turned up, could still persuade him to abandon my visit, in spite of the fact it was across the other side of the city and two long 'bus journeys. As to Peter, I ended up being married to him. Ann.

Chateau d'Usse

In the summer of 1990 we had driven from our home in Germany to meet family and to camp in Brittany. Whenever we went into France I always tried to choose a route there and back that would include interesting places to visit. Leaving our campsite at Carnac I decided to return via the Loire valley and visit some of the chateaux. Around mid-day one day we stopped at Chateau d'Usse which is associated with the story of the Sleeping Beauty. In the parking area there was just one large tree providing shade on a hot day. I think it was a chestnut and we found there was a space to park our car under it. About a week later we met an American couple who were two of our best friends in Germany. They had relatives visiting them from the USA and they had taken them touring in France. They had been to see the garden of Claude Monet at Giverny and had then headed for the Loire. We discovered they had parked on the same day, under the same tree at Chateau d'Usse about 30 minutes after we left. It would have been even better if they had been pulling in just as we left. We had not been aware of their plans or they of ours.

car number plates

When we moved into our house in the 1969 I was amazed to discover that another car in the same road had the same numbers and the same letters as ours although the order had been reversed and our car was a "B" reg while the other had no year reg.